Welcome to the 2nd instalment of our ‘Business Turnaround Initiatives’ series. Last time, we covered the business turnaround initiatives for the area of Finance. (If you haven’t checked that out yet, I strongly recommend you give it a read.) Today we are going to cover the area of Operations. Sound good? Let’s dive right in!
The Business Triangle
So in the last post, I went through the Business Triangle. This is how I view every single business. At the core of every single business is Finance, Operations, Sales & Marketing. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you are, what industry you’re in, how big or how small you are – every business has these 3 core areas. So today, we are covering the 2nd part of the Business Triangle which is Operations.
Business Turnaround Initiatives for Operations
Firstly let me define what I mean by ‘Operations’. Every business has a different definition however I think this area is more than making and moving widgets. Let’s go into each area in more detail:
There seems to be a trend at the moment (especially in tech businesses) where they like a flatter structure as opposed to a hierarchy. This is some new-age, hippy horse shit and must be avoided at all costs.
From my years of doing business turnaround, I can tell you that one of the most common problems I come across is a lack of accountability. A lack of accountability comes from a bad attitude mixed with no real reporting structure. If people are left to their own devices and there is no clear structure, then it’s no wonder you might find yourself in a bit of a mess. Stop trying to be hip and trendy and follow Mark Zuckerberg. Get your corporate governance in order. Establish clear reporting lines and make sure the staff know it.
If there’s a problem then it can be down to 1 of 2 things:
- There is no process in place
- There’s a breakdown in the process i.e. people aren’t following it or it’s flawed
Businesses are built on process. I don’t care how hipster you are. If you’re in business, there will come a time when you need a process. A lot of senior professionals see process as a bad thing or that it’s rigid or slows things down. It can do if it’s not done correctly.
Process brings order and gets people to work in a systemised manner when it comes to key operational tasks.
Process also protects the business. If things start happening in a chaotic manner, it’s very hard to keep track, mistakes abound and you end up reading this business turnaround blog.
Lack of process is costly. How many times have your staff made a costly mistake? Let me ask you a question – could that mistake have been avoided if there was a process in place? 9 times out of 10, the answer is, “Yes.”
If you’re in a business turnaround, then you need order and minimum mistakes.
In a previous post, I talk about how to improve communication during a business turnaround. In it, I highlight that one of the biggest reasons projects fail is communication breakdown.
Every business is different; however, communication is not.
Communication is the sending and receiving of a signal.
Quite often you can send out a piece of communication (a strategy, task, instruction) but it can fall on deaf ears or be misinterpreted. That’s why one of your key business turnaround initiatives must be to improve communication.
Personally, I’m not a fan of meetings. Typically a meeting is booked in for an hour, they have no clear agenda, people turn up late and end up going off-topic. Quite often people leave the meeting wondering why they were there in the first place. This is one of the reasons why people hate meetings.
Scrums are the perfect alternative to meetings. They are short, quick blasts of high-energy productivity and alignment. Check out this post on how to run an effective scrum.
Diarise Key Meetings
No matter what, you will always have to have some meetings. But which ones? I always advocate you diarise key meetings to set the strategy and then have touchpoints along the way to make sure that people are on track. Here are some examples of key meetings you might want to put in the diary:
- Top Line Strategy Meeting
- Finance Meeting
- Monthly Review
- Weekly Review
There you have it – business turnaround initiatives for Operations. If you can install even half of the above in your business, I’m sure you will see massive improvements in the way you operate. Operations initiatives are easy to define; the challenge comes with being disciplined in installing and policing it in your business. You will have to be disciplined at all costs. Once you’ve set a structure up, do not deviate. Allow it to take root and you will start to see ‘organisation’ in your organisation. Good luck.